30 November, 2017

Britain's Greatest Car Manufacturer Spotlight - Vauxhall

Next in our series is Vauxhall who is one of the oldest car manufacturers in the UK.

Early Days of Vauxhall

Vauxhall started life as Alexander Wilson and Co in 1857. They manufactured steam-powered and equipment for river craft. In 1903, the same engine was used in its first car called the 6hp.

The E-type 30/98, released in 1923, became the fastest car on catalogue in Britain.

Vauxhall Acquisition by GM

1925 saw Vauxhall acquired by GM for $2.5m. GM (General Motors) wanted to widen the production line of Vauxhall through introducing more models such as the Cadet.

Post-War Era

Trivia - During the breakout of the war, Vauxhall participated by producing the Churchill Marks I-III.

The 60's was one of Vauxhall's longest production runs as the ultra-reliable small-vehicle Viva range, their first venture into the small-car market ran until 1979 and had seen 640,000 units sold.

During the mighty production, Vauxhall also produced the Firenza models some of which reaching 0-60 within 10 seconds. They achieved motorsport success with Gerry Marshal at the wheel.

Merger with Opel

During the 70's and 80's, GM started to merge the production lines of Opel and Vauxhall which essentially culminated in Vauxhall being re-badged Opels. 

During this time period, the famous Cavalier was created which had a production run of 500,000 units. This car was a best-seller in the UK. The were two other additions to the cavalier, the Cavalier II (1981-88) and the Cavalier III (1988-1995).

The first thing the driver notices is how fast the thing is: heart-pounding, breath-shortening, pulse-racing fast. 

End of Opel Merger

Towards the end of the production of the Cavalier, Vauxhall would no longer be merged with Opel in the mid-90's. The Cavalier's final bow out was a win at the British Touring Car Championships (BTCC).

Icons of their Time

In 1987, The Carton II was a Car of the Year. 

During the 90's, Vauxhall would produce some of the longest standing models which were the Corsa, Vectra and Zafira. 

The early 2000s saw the VXR hit the road to critical acclaim being named engine of the year. Mid to late 2000's included the 4th generation Corsa release and Astra.

Transformed over the old one, it's now a genuine Ford Fiesta competitor - Top Gear Review on the 2017 Corsa

The insignia was also released which raised the bar in technology and design.  

Post-2010 saw a new mid-sized coupé Astra. Forward thinking in mind, led Vauxhall to launch the Cascada model which has links back to the 30-98.

 “The Astra has performed strongly this year, and now it has proven itself to be a top contender in terms of technology, safety and connectivity.

Vauxhall in Motorsport

Vauxhall competes in motorsport with cars running in the British Touring Car Championships (BTCC) through a partnership with Power Maxed. They are also on the rally scene and won the 2017 Junior British Rallying Championships. 

New Ownership and Future of Vauxhall

In 2017, Vauxhall and Opel were bought by Groupe PSA who own brands like Peugeot and Citroen from GM for £1.9bn.

Vauxhall has been one of the success stories of British motoring and has created many classics which has contributed to their brand lasting thus far. However, is their story the greatest in the history of British Motoring or is there another manufacturer who deserves the crown? Next in our series is Westfield.

Britain's greatest car manufacturer Vauxhall
Britain's greatest car manufacturer Vauxhall
Britain's greatest car manufacturer Vauxhall
Britain's greatest car manufacturer Vauxhall
Britain's greatest car manufacturer Vauxhall
Britain's greatest car manufacturer Vauxhall